Plane first, then joint or vice versa?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Joinery forum

Forum topic by arkahoot posted 07-25-2016 04:20 AM 453 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View arkahoot's profile


4 posts in 1504 days

07-25-2016 04:20 AM

So, I bought a piece of 8/4 walnut and 8/4 hard maple, about 5’ – 5.5’ long and about +/- 7” wide. I plan on making some alternating color end grain cutting boards. Both boards need planing and squaring up. The wood was pricey, so I don’t want to screw it up! I have a planer, but no jointer so I was going to make a jig and square them up on my table saw. So, I have several questions. First, should I plane the boards first to make sure they’re flat before I try to square the edges? Seems like the logical first step. If so, should I plane the entire board? Or cut them into smaller lengths first? Seems like I could minimize snipe if I planed the whole board. Alternatively, should I crosscut the boards to rough lengths on my table saw sled, square them up with the jig on the table saw, then plane each one individually? I think I know what I probably should do, but wanted to get some thoughts from people who may have been through this before.


5 replies so far

View muleskinner's profile


869 posts in 1858 days

#1 posted 07-25-2016 05:18 AM

Usually with longer boards I cut them into shorter working lengths. If there’s any curve or bow to them, squaring and flattening a 24” or 18” board is going to remove less wood than machining up a 5 or 6 foot board.

-- Visualize whirled peas

View JBrow's profile


748 posts in 342 days

#2 posted 07-25-2016 04:30 PM


My personal preference in milling stock is to flatten one face, then plane to achieve parallel faces. Once the faces are parallel, edge jointing is then done. When done in this order and after achieving one straight edge, squaring the edges to the face is straightforward with rip cuts on the table saw. It is not clear to me how one could square the edges to the faces until the faces are flat and in parallel planes. I am not sure of the method you will use to establish the first flat face, but whatever the method, getting a flat face first will make the rest of the project go better.

I generally tend toward the method describe by muleskinner before any milling, that is cutting the lumber to oversized rough lengths or to multiples of the final length (e.g. achieving four 2’ lengths from an 8’ board, the 8’ board can be cut to 4’ lengths, milled, then 2’ final lengths cut from the two 4’ lengths). In addition to the advantage mentioned, the smaller pieces are more manageable.

The two main problems with this approach are first, there are more pieces to handle. The second is potential loss of stock at the ends of the boards due to planer snipe. A rough board cut 6” to 8” longer than final length as allowance for snipe is costly. I have found that planer snipe can be largely eliminated (and hence the rough length cut closer to the final length) if the boards are end butted one to the other when feeding the planer. Just as one board is about to disappear in the planer, the next board is butted against the end of the disappearing board (fooling the planer into believing one long board is being planed).

If you opt for milling the lumber without cutting to rough length, I would think that achieving the first flat face would be more difficult and as muleskinner mentioned, you could lose some thickness that could be otherwise saved by cutting the lumber to shorter lengths. But then there would only be two boards to handle.

Ensuring the lumber is acclimated before milling and then stickered after milling can help keep the milled stock stable. Flattening a face and planing the opposite face in one day has been helpful to me in maintaining the stability of the stock, by exposing fresh wood on both faces.

View rwe2156's profile


2119 posts in 902 days

#3 posted 07-25-2016 04:39 PM

Flatten one face using either handplanes, a straight edge and winding sticks.

Or a sled in your planer.

No need to cut the boards they’re only 5’ long. Unless there is come pretty severe warping, twisting, cupping.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View toddbeaulieu's profile


779 posts in 2426 days

#4 posted 07-25-2016 04:41 PM

As you know snipe waste is minimized with longer pieces. But if the pieces are too irregular you get into waste by removing a lot of material to get it all uniform. In that case, shorter pieces might make more sense.

Because I have a jointer I always joint one flat, then one edge. Plane and rip.

In your case, I think it makes sense to plane the flats and then use the saw jig.

View arkahoot's profile


4 posts in 1504 days

#5 posted 07-26-2016 02:45 AM

Thanks y’all! Appreciate the advice.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics